These questions were answered by more than 50 individual scientists and science writers with expertise in addiction. To get as many answered as possible, responses were written quickly based on the personal background and knowledge of each expert. Please note that there was not a secondary review or proofreading of each fact, and if readers have questions or comments about any response, they can ask further questions here.

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can you get addicted to methamphetamine after only one time of use?

-fi, New York

Good question, but it really is hard to specifically answer this. Addiction really depends on lot of factors...such as the drug that you are taking, how much you are taking, and it depends on your own individual vulnerability to the specific drug. We also know that some people can be more sensitive to a drug's effects and therefore can be more vulnerable to becoming addicted than others. What we do know is that we can become addicted to all drugs of abuse and methamphetamine is a particularly addictive drug as it has very powerful reinforcing effects. So the risk of addiction with meth is pretty great.To learn more about understanding drug abuse and addiction, please see: http://drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/understand.html.

-Joe Frascella

Can you get addicted to prescription medicine?

-fort settlement, Texas

Abuse of prescription medications like OxyContin is a big problem, not only for adults, but also for teens. In fact, in 2010, 1 out of 20 10th and 12th grade students have used OxyContin for non-medical reasons in the past year. Using these drugs for reasons, other than a doctor prescribes, can lead to bad consequences. For example, misuse or abuse of OxyContin can lead to drug addiction, overdose and death (almost 15,000 unintentional opioid overdose deaths total in the U.S. in 2008) -- not good!! Need more information about prescription drugs? Click on: http://www.nida.nih.gov/drugpages/prescription.html

-David Shurtleff

Can you get any kind of cancer from drugs or drinking?

-Bethanne C, Iowa

Yes. Smoking, for example, is highly correlated with lung cancer. In fact, smokers are about 10 to 20 times more likely to get lung cancer and about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% of lung cancer deaths in women are due to smoking. Also, chewing tobacco and alcohol, for example, can lead to oral cancers of the mouth and throat. For more information, check out: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/DietandPhysicalActivity/alcohol-use-and-cancer

-Kris Bough

Can you get cancer from drug usage?

-fluffy779, Iowa

Yes, you can. Cigarettes, marijuana and alcohol can all increase one's chances of getting cancer. In fact, even being around people who smoke can increase your chances of getting lung cancer. In the US, second hand smoke contributes to about 3000 cases of lung cancer each year.

-Dave Thomas

Can you get drunk off of hand sanitizer?

-Logan~~W, Pennsylvania

Yes, because it contains ethyl alcohol, the kind of alcohol in alcoholic beverages. However, it can also make a person extremely sick due to the other ingredients in it. That's why the instructions make clear that hand sanitizer is for external use only.

-Aaron White

can you get drunk off of orange juice?

-cooldude78, New York

No. But, you might be surprised to know that fruit juices, like orange juice, can contain small amounts of alcohol. When yeast, which exists naturally in the environment, interacts with the sugar in juice, alcohol gets produced. Luckily, the amount of alcohol is so small that a person literally would have to drink gallons of juice to feel the effects.

-Aaron White

can you get drunk on this new mix called jenkem?

-urmom, Michigan

Fortunately, 'jenkem' does not appear to be a real drug and was a hoax that circulated a few years ago. It was supposed to be a hallucinogen made from fermented human waste. Not real, though! Gross!!!!

-Aaron White

Can you get drunk or high off of rubbing

-Talia, Pennsylvania

You should never consume the kind of alcohol that is in rubbing alcohol, also called isopropyl alcohol. The only type of alcohol safe for human consumption is ethyl alcohol, such as in beer and wine

-Aaron White

Can you get drunk or high off of rubbing alcohol?

-Talia, Pennsylvania

You should never consume the kind of alcohol that is in rubbing alcohol, also called isopropyl alcohol. The only type of alcohol safe for human consumption is ethyl alcohol, such as in beer and wine.

-Aaron White

Can you get drunk quicker if you mix alchohols

-Thursty, Iowa

In general, no. All alcoholic beverages contain the same key ingredient -- ethyl alcohol.

-Aaron White

can you get high from eating mcribs

-ajbuoy, Indiana

Not high, just fat.

-Joni Rutter

can you get high off germ ex

-blulf, Nebraska

Yes, a person could get drunk off of hand sanitizer like Germ Ex because it contains ethyl alcohol, the kind of alcohol in alcoholic beverages. However, it can also make a person extremely sick due to the other ingredients in it. That's why the instructions make clear that hand sanitizer is for external use only.

-Aaron White

Do drugs effect your brain?

-Julie, Ohio

Yep. Drugs of abuse are molecules that bind or cling to certain molecules on the surface of brain cells (or inside cells), like a key might fit snugly into a lock. They tend to fit because they happen to be shaped like molecules our brains normally have floating around. Many of these drug molecules have a positive effect, like relieving pain, by interfering with the pain system of the brain, or can improve attention in focus for people whose brains aren't 'tuned' well. Most drugs and certainly alcohol, actually changes the structure and shape of parts of the brain, and can even shrink them! Recent data using brain scans of long-time users shows that heroin actually shrinks parts of your brain-- especially the gray matter! It also can effect the white matter in the brain that connects cells together, though the white matter might recover a bit once people stop using. The other serious risk is ADDICTION, where someone who uses drugs for fun or to treat pain loses control over the drug, and can't keep himself or herself from stopping looking to get the drug and use it. Over time, the brain can form powerful associations between things we see in the environment that lead to experiencing drugs and alcohol, and ultimately the high. In addition, the brain gets used to the molecules, and makes adjustments, that might require more and more drug over time to get the same high. This is especially true for nicotine in cigarettes or heroin. The body suffers too, as people stop taking care of themselves in other areas (like diet) as their lives become all about getting the next hit of drug or alcohol. Most people who regularly use drugs or alcohol can stop themselves at some point and walk away from it. However, depending on the drug, a fraction of people who use it repeatedly will ultimately lose control and get addicted, and it will truly wreck their life- either permanently, or the drugs will leave people in a useless fog for many years, until they can get themselves together. This happened to some close relatives of mine. Not worth the risk, I say!

-Jim Bjork

do drugs have any good affects

-IMS301, Louisiana

Yes, especially prescription medications that were developed to treat conditions like severe pain. The issue is, that a certain proportion of people who use a mind-affecting drug will lose control over it (get addicted), making it risky. If you're one of those who ends up getting addicted, it could really affect your life, and depending on the drug, pattern of use and luck, could do some physiological damage.

-Jim Bjork

do drugs have the same chemical structure as the neurons in your brain? how do they affect your brain

-yes, Iowa

yes indeed. Drugs of abuse are molecules that bind or cling to certain molecules on the surface of brain cells (or inside cells), like a key might fit snugly into a lock. They tend to fit because they happen to be shaped like molecules our brains normally have floating around. Many of these drug molecules have a positive effect, like relieving pain, by interfering with the pain system of the brain, or can improve attention in focus for people whose brains aren't 'tuned' well. Some drugs, like cocaine or methamphetamine or other strong 'stimulants' can increase heart rate suddenly, however, putting the user at risk of heart attack or stroke. The other serious risk is ADDICTION, where someone who uses drugs for fun or to treat pain loses control over the drug, and can't keep himself or herself from stopping looking to get the drug and use it. Over time, the brain can form powerful associations between things we see in the environment that lead to experiencing drugs and alcohol, and ultimately the high. This is especially true for nicotine in cigarettes or heroin. The body suffers too, as people stop taking care of themselves in other areas (like diet) as their lives become all about getting the next hit of drug or alcohol. Most people who regularly use drugs or alcohol can stop themselves at some point and walk away from it. However, depending on the drug, a fraction of people who use it repeatedly will ultimately lose control, and it will truly wreck their life- either permanently, or the drugs will leave people in a useless fog for many years, until they can get themselves together. This happened to some close relatives of mine. Not worth the risk, I say!

-Jim Bjork

do drugs heart your hart

-bloody guns, Iowa

Yes, many do. The ones that are most damaging to your heart are cocaine and methamphetamine.

-Nora Volkow

Do drugs make people calm or make them worse

-IMS408, Louisiana

Most drugs of abuse can be classified as stimulants or depressants. Stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, wake people up, make them more active, speed up their heart rate, increase their blood pressure and other effects. Depressants, such as heroin, do the reverse. Both are dangerous. For more information about stimulants and depressants, check out www.teens.drugabuse.gov

-Dave Thomas

Do drugs make u not drive well?

-?????????, Iowa

Yes, drugs like alcohol and marijuana can impair your perception and motor coordination, both of which you need to drive well and react appropriately. For example, marijuana is the most common illegal drug found in drivers who die in accidents (around 14 percent of drivers), often in combination with alcohol or other drugs. Combining marijuana with drinking even a small amount of alcohol greatly increases driving danger, more than either drug alone. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/ for more.

-Ruben Baler

Do drugs make you drive odd when you are driving?

-mackenziem32, Iowa

Yes but it depends on the drug. Alcohol and marijuana interfere with your reflexes and coordination but other drugs like opiates (prescription painkillers) and benzodiazepines (drugs to treat anxiety, like valium) can make you sleepy and drowsy. Drugs like cocaine can make you aggressive and a risky driver.

-Nora Volkow

Do drugs rapidly spread in your body as soon as you use them?

-fc bobcats, Texas

This is a great question!How quickly a drug spreads throughout the body depends on many things, specifically on how the drug is injested (e.g., by mouth in a pill [slower] or injected directly into the blood stream [much more quickly]). Some drugs, for example, like nicotine, if smoked, can reach the brain within 10-15 seconds!!

-Kris Bough

do drugs shorten your life?

-kyle, Ohio

Great question. They sure can, in many different ways. Here are just a few examples:Some drug use, like smoking cigarettes, produce many kinds of cancer; some others such as cocaine, amphetamine, and psychostimulants, can cause strokes, heart attacks, and even death. Others can cause brain hemorrage (bleeding). Drugs like alcohol can cause many kinds of negative brain effects and liver disease, if abused. So abusing any drug, legal or illegal, can certainly shorten your life.

-Anto Bonci

do gay people do more drugs than straight people?

-willz, Pennsylvania

The research shows that drug addiction does not discriminate. Both gay and straight people are affected by drug addiction.

-Joni Rutter

Do genetics determine your likelihood of abusing drugs and

-Hyper4Hetalia, Pennsylvania

I am a geneticist, so this is my favorite type of question!! All diseases have some heritable component (this means that you can inherit them from parents), but how much you inherit can vary. Here's an example. Huntington's disease is caused by a genetic defect that, if passed on, causes a person's offspring (their child) to be affected. That means that Huntington's is 100% genetic. Inheritance, in the form of genes, plays a large role in drug addiction also. In fact, research shows that drug addiction is about 50% heritable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted to them. Researchers are trying to find the genes that make you vulnerable or resistant to addiction, in order to find ways to improve treatment and prevention approaches. Want more information on genes, addiction and teens? For more information:
http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/genetics.htmland
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary/

-Joni Rutter

Do genetics determine your likelihood of abusing drugs and alcohol?

-Hyper4Hetalia, Pennsylvania

I am a geneticist, so this is my favorite type of question!! All diseases have some heritable component (this means that you can inherit them from parents), but how much you inherit can vary. Here's an example. Huntington's disease is caused by a genetic defect that, if passed on, causes a person's offspring (their child) to be affected. That means that Huntington's is 100% genetic. Inheritance, in the form of genes, plays a large role in drug addiction also. In fact, research shows that drug addiction is about 50% heritable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted to them. Researchers are trying to find the genes that make you vulnerable or resistant to addiction, in order to find ways to improve treatment and prevention approaches. Want more information on genes, addiction and teens? For more information: http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/genetics.html and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary/.

-Joni Rutter

do girls have a diffrent effect when they drink or smoke

-greggy3, Ohio

In general, girls are affected more by alcohol than guys. Girls can feel the immediate effects of alcohol more quickly and for a longer time than guys. Thanks to natural differences in body chemistry and metabolism, girls retain more alcohol in their blood than men do, and also break down and get rid of alcohol more slowly than guys do. Girls may also be more likely to get cancer from drinking alcohol than males.

-Aaron White

Do girls or boys do drugs more often?

-fort settlement, Texas

Hello to you at Ft. Settlement Middle School! According to a recent Monitoring the Future Suvery it is even...Past year use of Illict drugs among 12-17 year olds was 19.4% for both boys and girls in 2010, Here is a summary from last year's Monitoring the Future, an annual survey of drug use among 8th, 10th and 12th graders. Because the survey has been going on for years, it helps us see trends. The summary is at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/newsroom/10/mtf10overview.html If you are interested in more details, go to http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/MTF.html. We expect to release 2011 data from MTF some time in December.

-Bethany Deeds

Do Inhalants causes brain seizure?

-iofoegbu, Texas

I'm not sure about brain seizures, but here's want I do know about inhalants. They seem harmless, but they can actually be quite dangerous. Inhalants are chemical vapors that people inhale on purpose to get “high.” The vapors produce mind-altering, and sometimes disastrous, effects. These vapors are in a variety of products common in almost any home or workplace. Examples are some paints, glues, gasoline, and cleaning fluids. Many people do not think of these products as drugs because they were never meant to be used to achieve an intoxicating effect. But when they are intentionally inhaled to produce a “high,” they can cause serious harm. The lungs absorb inhaled chemicals into the bloodstream very quickly, sending them throughout the brain and body. Within minutes of inhalation, users feel 'high.' The effects are similar to those produced by alcohol and may include slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. The high usually lasts only a few minutes. With repeated inhalations, many users feel less inhibited and less in control. Some may feel drowsy for several hours and experience a lingering headache. Inhalants often contain more than one chemical. Some chemicals leave the body quickly, but others stay for a long time and get absorbed by fatty tissues in the brain and central nervous system. One of these fatty tissues is myelin, a protective cover that surrounds many of the body's nerve fibers. Myelin helps nerve fibers carry their messages to and from the brain. Damage to myelin can slow down communication between nerve fibers. Long-term inhalant use can break down myelin. When this happens, nerve cells are not able to transmit messages as efficiently, which can cause muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions like walking, bending, and talking. These effects are similar to what happens to patients with multiple sclerosis—a disease that also affects myelin. Inhalants also can damage brain cells by preventing them from receiving enough oxygen. The effects of this condition, also known as brain hypoxia, depend on the area of the brain affected. The hippocampus, for example, helps control memory, so someone who repeatedly abuses inhalants may lose the ability to learn new things or may have a hard time carrying on simple conversations. If the cerebral cortex is affected, the ability to solve complex problems and plan ahead will be compromised. And, if the cerebellum is affected, it can cause a person to move slowly or clumsily.Inhalants can be addictive. Long-term use can lead to compulsive drug seeking and use, and mild withdrawal symptoms. For more information, go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php.

-Joni Rutter

do kids become addicted to drugs easier than adults?

-mgeiger, Oklahoma

Great question! Evidence seems to suggest that the earlier one starts abusing drugs, the more likely one is to become addicted to the drugs. Of course, there are lots of individual variability with respect to ease of becoming addicted, but kids are particularly vulnerable to the addicting effects of drugs. If you are interested in learning more about this topic and other related issues, please check out:http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Joe Frascella

do medicated drugs get tested by animals?

-Hellothere, Maryland

always!this testing is very thorough and is one of the early stages in medication development. thanks for the question

-Ruben Baler

Do more people prefer to drink, wine or beer?

-Bethanne C, Iowa

In the US, people prefer beer, then wine, then liquor.

-Aaron White